How to Learn Algorithms

Discover how to learn algorithms. Explore the tech careers a coding bootcamp or online course for learning algorithms can lead you to.
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Christina Payne has covered bootcamps, careers, and higher education for BestColleges since 2019. An experienced writer, Christina also works for a nonprofit organization in Seattle. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BA in histor...
Updated on April 19, 2023
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Algorithms are sequences of well-defined instructions used to solve problems and perform calculations. Many tech professionals use and/or write algorithms, such as computer and information research scientists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information research scientists earned a median annual salary of $126,830 in 2020.

Readers can learn how to write and use algorithms through traditional college programs, online courses, or coding bootcamps. Online courses and bootcamps provide learning opportunities that generally cost less and take less time than a college degree program.

In the following sections, readers will discover how to learn algorithms through coding bootcamps and online courses.

Coding Bootcamps

Coding bootcamps offer intensive, in-depth programs for students looking to learn tech skills quickly. Most bootcamps focus on skills and knowledge that tech employees use in their careers every day.

Typically taught by professionals in the tech industry, coding bootcamps provide hands-on learning. Learners experience working as individuals and part of teams. Students also complete projects to build their portfolios.

Readers can find full-time, part-time, and self-paced coding bootcamps at various price points. Bootcamp classes differ depending on the focus of the bootcamp, such as coding, data science, or cybersecurity. Programs like a coding bootcamp often provide opportunities to learn about algorithms. Readers may also search for a software engineering or web development bootcamp that covers algorithms in the curriculum.

Coding bootcamps are an excellent way for students to learn about algorithms for less time and money than it takes to earn a college degree. Bootcamps offer flexible learning options, allowing students to find a learning method that suits their needs. Bootcamps also provide career services to help students find jobs after graduation.

Coding Bootcamps for You

Online Courses

Online courses offer a flexible — and often, cheaper alternative — to bootcamps. These programs come at varying prices, including many free online courses. Courses also have different time commitments, allowing students to choose a course that best fits their budget and schedule.

Readers can explore some online courses for algorithms below:

  • Computational Thinking for Problem Solving: This University of Pennsylvania course teaches students to solve quantitative and data-centric problems through computational thinking. Students gain skills in building simple algorithms, Python programming, and problem-solving with computational thinking. This course is designed for beginners and needs about 18 hours to complete. Graduates receive a certificate after finishing the course.
  • Algorithms Specialization: Offered by Stanford University, this course takes about four months to complete. This course is meant for students with basic programming experience. Students learn the fundamentals of algorithms. Upon finishing the course, learners should be able to speak fluently about algorithms with other programmers and computer scientists. Graduates earn a certificate upon completion of the program.
  • Data Structures and Algorithms: Created by the University of California, San Diego, this online course takes about eight months to complete. Students learn the fundamentals of algorithms through hands-on projects and programming challenges. Students also learn to apply algorithms to real-world problems. Graduates earn a certificate after completing the program.
  • Algorithms: This two-part course offered by Princeton University focuses on applications and scientific performance analysis of Java implementations. In the first course, students learn data structures and sorting algorithms. Part two covers graph- and string-processing algorithms. Students need to complete a total of 117 hours to pass the courses.
  • Data Science Foundations: Offered by the University of Colorado, this course teaches skills like algorithm design, analysis of algorithms, and graph algorithms. Students engage in hands-on projects like creating applications supported by efficient algorithms and data structures. This course takes about three months to complete. Students receive a certificate upon course completion.

Online Courses vs. Bootcamps

Online Courses
Pros Cons
  • Less expensive than a bootcamp
  • Flexible scheduling options
  • Easy to find free options
  • Typically cover less material
  • Few — if any — career services
  • Less interaction with the course instructor
Coding Bootcamps
Pros Cons
  • Hands-on learning
  • Portfolio-building projects
  • Career services available
  • More expensive than an online course
  • Takes more time than an online course
  • Less flexible scheduling options

Coding Bootcamps to Learn Algorithms

App Academy

  • Location: Remote, New York, San Francisco
  • Program Cost: $17,000
  • Learning Format: In-Person, Online
  • Time Commitment: Full-Time, Part-Time

Career Services
Evening & Weekend Options
Start For Free

App Academy offers three versions of their software engineering bootcamp — on-campus, online full-time, and online part-time. All three incorporate a similar curriculum, preparing students to become full-stack web developers or engineers. Weeks four through six are dedicated to computer science fundamentals, in which students will learn sorting algorithms.

App Academy self-reports that over 4,500 students have found job placements at over 2,000 companies. Bootcamp graduates have found careers at Uber, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. App Academy allows students to defer tuition payments until after they find a job.


  • Location: Remote
  • Program Cost: $99.99
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Self-Paced

Evening & Weekend Options
Money-Back Guarantee

Udemy offers a multitude of bootcamps, workshops, and online courses for those hoping to learn a new technical skill or enter the tech industry. One such class is their Data Structures and Algorithms Bootcamp, featuring over six hours of online instruction, videos, and resources. Students can work through the 19 total sections at their own pace. The course covers Big-O Notation, Hash Tables, Binary Trees, and memoization. Requirements include familiarity with Java and basic programming.

Udemy offers lifetime access to the course once you have purchased it. Students who reach the end of their bootcamp receive a certificate of completion that graduates can list on their resume. Udemy promises a 30-day money-back guarantee for those who are unsatisfied.

Get the Qualities You Want in a Bootcamp

We use icons to make browsing bootcamps easy for you. Use this breakdown to quickly identify program qualities you are looking for.

Accepts GI Bill®

Accepts the GI Bill® as funding for tuition.

Also Available In Person

This online bootcamp also offers in-person options.

Career Services

Offers career services to help you land your dream job after graduation.

CIRR Member

This bootcamp is a current member of the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting. Learn more at

Evening & Weekend Options

Bootcamps are offered during convenient evening and weekend hours.

Job Guarantee

Employment is guaranteed as soon as you finish your bootcamp.

Money-Back Guarantee

Tuition is refunded if you don't land a job within a given time frame after graduation. Visit the bootcamp website for terms and conditions.

Start for Free

No deposit is required to get started. Begin your bootcamp for $0.


Bootcamp Ranking Guidelines

At BestColleges, we believe the best bootcamp is the one that fits your schedule, your learning needs, and your career aspirations. That's why we often present our recommendations in alphabetical order -- because the real best bootcamp is the bootcamp that's best for you.

Our Methodology

The Bootcamp Team at BestColleges has collected data for over 150 bootcamps to help you find the best bootcamp.

At BestColleges, we believe the best bootcamp is the one that fits your schedule, your learning needs, and your career aspirations. That's why we often present our recommendations in alphabetical order -- because the real best bootcamp is the bootcamp that's best for you.

At this time, our recommendation round-ups feature only immersive bootcamps designed to prepare students for job placement upon graduation.

To be included on our lists, bootcamps must meet the following criteria:

  • Must offer at least one bootcamp in the United States.
  • Must offer at least one bootcamp that is a minimum of 4 weeks long.
  • Must require at least 15 hours of work per week if the bootcamp is part time.
  • Must encourage at least 10 hours of work per week if the bootcamp is self-paced.

Pricing disclosure: The prices listed were collected from product websites in 2022. However, given the dynamic, fast-paced nature of the tech space, prices are subject to change throughout the year. To get the most up-to-date information about pricing, contact providers directly.

Methodology for Recommending Cheap Bootcamps:

  • The bootcamp must meet all of the general criteria listed above.
  • The bootcamp must cost less than $8,000 if it is offered full time, and less than $5,000 if it is offered part time. These numbers were chosen based on data collected by BestColleges in 2020 that determined the average cost of a coding bootcamp is $13,580.

Algorithms Jobs

Data Scientist

Data scientists filter through massive amounts of data with the intent of making it easy to understand. They then use the data to create graphs, charts, and solutions for their business. These professionals should have a solid understanding of algorithms, as they are an essential part of forecasting outcomes.

Median Annual Salary

Computer Programmer

Computer programmers write and test code for programs and applications. After software developers create software, computer programmers turn the program designs into instructions for the computer to follow. These professionals must know several coding languages and understand how to find and fix errors in code.

Median Annual Salary

Software Developer

Software developers design applications and the underlying systems that run control networks. These professionals may meet with clients to understand their needs and build programs to their specifications. Software developers also recommend software updates to clients when needed. Some software developers focus on testing and quality assurance of programs.

Median Annual Salary

Web Developer

Web developers create websites. These professionals build and maintain all technical aspects of a website's performance, including the website's speed and ability to handle traffic. Web developers may also work with digital designers to create content for the website and determine the website's layout.

Median Annual Salary

Frequently Asked Questions About Learning Algorithms

Are algorithms easy to learn?

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Gaining a solid foundation in algorithms is key for new students. Once students master the basics, they can move on to more difficult lessons. It's important for students to understand the function of each part of an algorithm and how to apply them in coding.

Students with no background in coding or computer science should enroll in a beginner's course for algorithms. Some bootcamps may offer free intro-level courses to teach the fundamentals of coding and algorithms before students sign up for the main bootcamp. Students can also find online courses that teach algorithms at the introductory level.

Where can I learn algorithms for free?

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Readers can often find free online courses for learning algorithms and coding basics. These courses are often short and teach only the fundamentals of a subject. Some of these free online courses are offered by postsecondary institutions.

Bootcamps may also offer free introductory courses for students. These classes are primers for the more immersive bootcamp program. While students do not have to pay for the introductory course, they will need to pay tuition for the main bootcamp program. There are also tutorials for algorithms on YouTube.

What is the best way to learn algorithms?

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Students can learn algorithms online through bootcamps and online courses. Bootcamps typically provide a more immersive experience and offer career services for graduates. Online courses provide more flexible scheduling, often allowing students to continue their current jobs while learning.

Ultimately, students must decide which learning style suits them best. If a student enjoys working on group projects and likes one-on-one time with the instructor, a bootcamp may be the right choice. Students who prefer to work independently and move through the material at their own pace should consider an online course.

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